Obama visits GOP strongholds of Idaho, Kansas
Obama Drops Instantly Legendary Ad-Libbed Burn on Republicans During State of the Union.
REDWOOD CITY, California – A noticeably revitalized President Barack Obama appeared Tuesday night before the new GOP-led Congress to paint the state of the nation. “America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed and the state of the Union is strong,” he said.President Obama, in what he said was the fourth quarter of his presidency, stood on a stage set upon a football field Wednesday and made the pitch that his policies still have a chance even with Republican control of Congress.The president circled back to the themes of change and unity that he campaigned on during his first presidential race as he defended the promises he made then and policies he believes have, and will, deliver. “My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol: to do what I believe is best for America,” he said.President Obama met Wednesday with the wife of an American pastor who’s been imprisoned in Iran for more than two years, telling her that securing Saeed Abedini was a top priority for his administration.
Obama was buoyed by a growing US economy, increasing number of jobs, lower gas prices, and a job approval rating that’s the highest since the government shutdown in 2013. “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Standing in front of a banner reading “Middle-Class Economics,” Obama said Idaho, a state that only gave him about a third of the vote both times he ran for president, was an example for the nation on investing in technology and education, two key parts of Obama’s economic platform.
A glance last night across the ashen Republican faces in a Congress controlled by Mr Obama’s rivals leaves little doubt that the progressive goals he set out last night have little chance of passing. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?” he said. “To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.
Obama and Congress already are preparing to engage in several funding fights this year, starting with appropriations for the Homeland Security Department, which expires at the end of February, a transportation funding bill in May, and the federal debt limit later in the year. I know that this meeting could not have occurred without prayer and I am grateful to the many people around the country and world who continue to pray for Saeed’s release.” She added: “The president repeated his desire to do all that he can to bring Saeed home. President Obama hit back at his critics, noting how “the pundits” have said his presidency hasn’t delivered on his promise of unity, that politics appears more guided than ever and that his vision was misguided. That means the world to me and my children and has given me a renewed sense of hope.” Naghmeh told Obama that she prays for him often, and said he smiled when Naghmeh told him that she had refrained from food and had fasted for days praying that God would grant this meeting with him. Aides said the visits to Idaho and Kansas, two states dominated by the Republican Party and which he lost by wide margins in the 2008 and 2012 elections, were intended to show that some of the economic proposals he’s making have bipartisan support.
The GOP-led Congress is blocking Obama’s recent orders including his executive action on immigration. “We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or re-fighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got to fix a broken system. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. The cheering Boise throng of about 6,600 stood in contrast to the US House chamber he had addressed less than 24 hours before, where more than half of lawmakers ignored the applause lines in his speech.
Mr Obama made no reference to the election hammering that Democrats took in November’s midterm elections and mostly ignored the political reality that he must broker deals with his opponents. She appeared to take a less combative stance by saying she will not respond to the speech, but alluded to Washington’s faults, saying Congress has its own solutions. “Americans have been hurting,” she said. “But when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare.
Given that Republicans are unlikely to approve $320 billion of tax increases that penalise their supporters, Mr Obama’s bold declarations and proposals around “middle-class economics” are unlikely to break the pattern of partisan gridlock that paralysed the last Congress. Over the last two-and-a-half years, Abedini has endured long stints in solitary confinement, and, according to his attorneys, beatings and torture at the hands of his jailers and fellow inmates. The president and Republicans both have said they want to revamp the tax system to simplify it and close loopholes, though they’re far apart on the details. The speech can be seen as Mr Obama’s attempt to consolidate a legacy as an agent of change, or at least at attempted change in the face of obstructionist Republicans. Last August, Abedini’s children, Jacob, 6, and Rebekka, 7, made a YouTube video in which they appealed to President Obama to help win their father’s freedom.
And now, we’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve.” As for the majority of the public, a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows people believe that a divided government does not work well for the country. They showed him creations meant to mimic motorcycle parts and a printout of a patient’s human spine used to help surgeons identify problems before surgery. The administration plans to convene a group of employers, education and training providers, labor organizations, nonprofits, and other groups to support job training for US workers, according to a White House fact sheet.
Mr Obama’s speech felt in parts like a farewell address defending his track record and long-held policy positions that he has no interest in compromising and which Republicans have no interest in passing. At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. The president went further, threatening to veto Republicans if they tried to unwind his healthcare law, Wall Street rules or immigration actions or threatened nuclear talks with Iran by introducing sanctions. Ben is back in construction – and home for dinner every night. “It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices.
Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years. But here’s the thing – those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure government doesn’t halt the progress we’re making. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead. In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot.
That’s what middle-class economics is – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority – so this country provided universal childcare.
It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage – these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families. America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world.
Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education.
We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come. 21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas.
That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair. Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time.
I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world. I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world.
We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies. Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.
And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small – by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people.
As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.
No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola – saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.
That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice – so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse.
I said this because I had seen it in my own life, in a nation that gave someone like me a chance; because I grew up in Hawaii, a melting pot of races and customs; because I made Illinois my home – a state of small towns, rich farmland, and one of the world’s great cities; a microcosm of the country where Democrats and Republicans and Independents, good people of every ethnicity and every faith, share certain bedrock values. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws – of which there are many – but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it.
I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home. And many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for – arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision. A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives. We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.
Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth – that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.
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